Google, Microsoft to put 'kill switches' in smartphones

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 11:20pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 11:20pm

Google and Microsoft will incorporate a "kill switch" into the next versions of their smartphone operating systems as evidence mounts that such security measures may be deterring theft.

More than 30 per cent of robberies in major cities involve mobile phones, with smartphones often targeted because of their high value.

Google said it would add a "factory reset protection solution" to its next version of Android. Microsoft said it would offer new theft- deterrence mechanisms in an update for phones running its software, including those made by Nokia Oyj.

Following Apple's release of a kill switch in September, thefts of iPhones in some cities "plummeted", said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

He helped start a coalition of law enforcement officials and consumer and public safety activists that has prodded the industry to add the theft- deterrence measures.

The Secure Our Smartphones Initiative group said robberies involving Apple products in New York dropped 19 per cent in the first five months of the year compared with the same period last year.

In San Francisco and London, robberies involving Apple products dropped 38 per cent and 24 per cent.